I’m writing as I breastfeed my 16-month-old son in our family co-sleep bed. As I tried to think about what to share with you, it became clear that I should broach the subject of bedtime, or rather, the little rituals that make this time one of my favourite times of the day. Here are five things we do so the whole family easily and pleasantly transitions into a night of restful sleep.
1. Bath time
While I clean up the dishes after supper, my man gives the kids a bath. It’s a great time for him to talk and connect with them, especially since he works so much. We choose mild and organic soaps like those from Druide or Dr. Hauschka, sing songs, and make bubbles. On days when tempers are shorter and fatigue more present, a bath always manages to calm and cleanse both body and spirit! After a long day, there’s nothing better than a warm bath—if we can feel the benefits, tell yourselves that our kids can, too!
Once out of the tub with their teeth brushed, it’s time for a massage! We use our Druide baby soothing lotion and give the kids a little rub down. My son is still too young to tolerate more than three minutes, but my four-year-old daughter tells me exactly where she’s tense. This affectionate and trust-filled act brings us together and relaxes her. Since I stopped breastfeeding my daughter a few months ago, this massage has taken on a little of that role, offering her closeness, gentleness, and warmth.
3. Essential oil diffuser
If you don’t have an essential oil diffuser at home, I strongly recommend getting one. I use mine every day—morning and night. In the evenings, I start the diffuser before bedtime and add a few drops of lavender. The calming and soothing properties of this essential oil do wonders and promote more restful sleep.
4. Mini meditation
For some people, bedtime is a time to read books. We like doing that as well, but we prefer inventing our own stories and sharing them. Over time, this inspired me to initiate Sky (my daughter) to meditation. Here’s how I guide her:
We sit face to face and close our eyes. Then we take three deep breaths placing our hands on our tummies to feel them expanding with air as we inhale, and deflating as we exhale. Then we open our eyes and imagine that we are holding a ball of energy in our hands. I ask her what colour the ball is and what she imagines is inside, or I suggest an image, for example, a slew of colourful butterflies flapping their wings very quickly and glowing. We then imagine that we fill this ball with love and a luminous colour. Once full, this ball of light opens and thousands of butterflies fly out to rest on the hearts of the people we love, humanity, someone we know who is suffering, ourselves, and so on. I invite you to do this exercise with your child and experience their curiosity, wonder and presence with them.
Sleeping with your kids is pure joy! At least it is in our family! People would tell me when my eldest was still tiny that I shouldn’t get her used to sleeping with us since she would never grow out of it. My maternal instinct told me that there was more to gain than lose by keeping my child in bed with us. The closeness makes breastfeeding easier, gives me peace of mind and lets me sleep sounder knowing that I’m close by in case of need. My husband also says he feels his bond with the kids growing and strengthening by sleeping close to them.